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2023 Governor's Challenge: Day 1 Notebook

By Marcus Helton, 12/27/23, 2:45AM EST


Notes from an action-packed opening day.

CH Flowers 2025 forward Tyrell Bowles.

Bowles, Flowers get back to work

SALISBURY, MD - The opening quarter and a half of Tuesday’s Governor’s Challenge bracket opener between CH Flowers (Md.) and Winston Churchill (Md.) wasn’t a showpiece of offensive basketball.

The Jaguars and Bulldogs struggled to put the ball in the basket early on, with Churchill leading just 8-6 after one quarter of action.

Flowers found its flow in the second quarter, though, outscoring Churchill 21-4 to open up a 27-12 halftime lead. They led by as many as 17 but had to withstand a furious Churchill rally in the fourth quarter to pull out a 55-51 victory.

2025 forward Tyrell Bowles had 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked 7 shots to lead the Jaguars.

Alhssan Barrie had 11 points for the Jaguars.

Jason Noumbissi led the Bulldogs with 13, while Benjamin Ash had 12. Churchill cut a 17-point deficit to two in the fourth quarter but couldn’t fully close the gap.

“I feel like it was mostly mental,” Bowles said of the team’s slow start. “The first quarter, it was [lack of]  focus; I feel like I wasn’t locked in all the way, and I feel like in the second quarter was when I began to lock in and understand what I needed to do to help my team win.”

Flowers coach Brian Brooks blamed the slow start on recent events that disrupted his team’s routine. On December 19 a series of fights took place at the school, and on December 21 a student was discovered with a gun on campus. The incidents led to the postponement of games against Largo and Parkdale as well as the cancellation of multiple practices.

Brooks said his team was playing well before the recent issues, picking up blowout wins over Suitland and Eleanor Roosevelt.

“The slow start I would attribute to not being in the gym, having that week and a half layoff,” Brooks said. “Basketball players, once you get your legs under you - and because of the way we play so many people, you eventually find five guys who, I don’t want to say ‘Want to be out there,’ but that’s what it looked like. We found five who wanted to be out there. We knew going in that the first five who settled down were going to be the ones who set the tone for us. Uncustomarily, Tyrell started off with the butter fingers - you very rarely see that - but you kind of talk to him all the time about the possibility that that could happen. Tonight he didn’t have it to start off, and when he doesn’t have it, that’s how we look.”

Fortunately for the Jaguars, Bowles found his rhythm on both ends of the floor. Bowles is a strong rebounder and rim protector, with an intriguing blend of size and athleticism.

“It's such a luxury to have a kid like him who works so hard,” Brooks said. “He’s there everyday and you don’t have to go looking for him. Everyday he asks, ‘Are we working out in the morning? Are we working out tomorrow?’ So I don’t really know what it's like to not have a kid like that, because he’s been doing it for three years.”

Flowers advances to face Central Bucks East (Pa.) in a bracket final Wednesday at Wicomico High School. Churchill will play Walkersville in the consolation round, also at Wi-Hi.


Riverdale Baptist guard Jack Furman poses after his team's opening victory at the 2023 Governor's Challenge

Riverdale Baptist guard Jack Furman.

After a few days off for Christmas Break, the Riverdale Baptist Crusaders were eager to get back to work.

They picked up a victory in their return to the court, although one opponent - William Penn (DE) guard Jaylin Horsey - tried his hardest to spoil it.

Horsey had 37 points on 10-of-16 shooting - including 6-of-11 from 3-point range - to keep his team in it, but it wasn’t enough as Riverdale picked up a 72-67 victory.

While Horsey - who is committed to D-II Wilmington (DE) University - may have been hot from the floor, the Crusaders did a good job of limiting his teammates. Outside of Horsey, the Colonials shot a combined 14-for-43 from the floor, and only one other player finished in double figures: Emmanuel Vonhm with 10 points.

“Really just defensive effort [was the key],” Riverdale guard Jack Furman said. “It was a team effort, just talking on the backside and really bringing energy after the Christmas break. That was really the key to it.”

Furman had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting - 4-of-6 from deep - and four steals to lead the Crusaders, while Nathaniel Wooden had 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting to go with 9 rebounds. Gio Sanford had 9 points and 6 assists for Riverdale.

“It was great,” Furman said of his team’s Governor’s Challenge opener. “I think the break was really good for all of us, and I think it just gave us a little break away from basketball so we could get back and anticipate it and be excited for it, and just come back with a lot of energy.”

Riverdale Baptist advanced to face Calvert Hall (Md.) in a bracket final on Wednesday. William Penn will face Potomac School (Va.) in a consolation matchup.

“I feel good,” Wooden said. “I feel like this tournament is just us working on the things we need to work on, to perfect for the next year. All those good teams that we play, if we just work on the small stuff here, when we play them it’ll be nothing.”


Phoenixville (Pa.) guard Deacon Baratta poses after his team's opening win over Linganore (Md.) at the 2023 Governor's Challenge.

Phoenixville (Pa.) guard Deacon Baratta.

Finding themselves down 21-20 against Linganore (Md.) at the break, Phoenixville (Pa.) came out with a different approach in the second half.

“Just playing with more energy,” 2024 forward Max Lebisky said. “The first half was quiet. The defense was good, but once we bought energy, there just was not much they could do. We just kind of ran up the floor and got back, and beat them down the floor a bunch of times, so that was kind of the key.”

That shift was evident on the floor - and the scoreboard - as the Phantoms outscored the Lancers 47-20 in the second half to pull away for a 67-41 victory.

Deacon Baratta had 20 points and Lebisky 16 and 9 boards to lead Phoenixville, which advanced to face Atholton in a bracket final on Wednesday.

“I would just say we had a good halftime talk,” Baratta said. “We were all talking and got on the same page and then once we came out we were able to connect, like getting the extra passes. And we started actually hitting shots, I think that was the main thing.”

Brandon Donaldson had 13 points to lead the Lancers, who will meet South River in a consolation matchup.


Calvert Hall (Md.) 2024 guard Brendan Johnson had 32 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the floor and 11-of-16 from the free throw line to go with 8 rebounds as the Cardinals held on for a 66-62 win over Potomac School (Va.). … Snow Hill (Md.) guard Keandre Nixon scored his 1,000th career point in the Eagles 84-48 victory over Laurel (DE) at the Civic Center. His teammate Jayden Hudson is closing in on the mark himself, needing just 11 more points to reach 1K. … Colonel Richardson’s Ja’Zir Dickerson went a perfect 9-for-9 from the field en route to 20 points in a 69-48 win over Indian River. Dresden Lake posted a game-high 23 in the victory. … Delmar (DE) 2026 guard Dustin Pedersen had 28 points and 16 rebounds in the Wildcats’ 56-54 win over Crisfield. … Delaware Military Academy guard Gabe Swift poured in a game-high 34 points as the Seahawks fell just short in a 78-76 loss to Queen Anne’s County. ... Polytech 2026 guard Davian Stephenson had 27 points and 13 rebounds i his team's 48-40 win over Washington (Md.).



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